Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023|
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A bill that would legalize adult recreational use of cannabis in Hawaii cleared its final committee hurdle Thursday.
Senate Bill 669, which was introduced by Sen. Joy San Buenaventura, a Puna Democrat, passed the Senate Committees on Consumer Protection and Ways and Means.
During the hearing, Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, an Oahu Democrat and the Commerce and Consumer Protection chairman, proposed a number of amendments that were incorporated to tackle issues that had been raised in earlier hearings.
These amendments include:
• establishing civil penalties for unlicensed cannabis grow and distribution activities;
• protecting employers that seek to prohibit cannabis use among their employees;
• prohibiting advertising within 1,000 feet of any youth-centered area; and
• proposing licensing of cultivation, manufacturing, testing, and retail facilities that ensure a properly regulated industry while also preventing future consolidation and monopoly control of cannabis dispensaries.
“Today marks a significant step forward in the legalization of adult-use cannabis in Hawaii,” Keohokalole said.
“These amendments are reflective of the Senate’s commitment to ensuring a fair and well-regulated cannabis market that provides safe access to both adult consumers and existing medical patients.”
Noting that Gov. David Ige was a recreational cannabis opponent, Keohokalole said he hopes Gov. Josh Green, who was lieutenant governor during the Ige administration “will work with us to bring this to fruition.”
San Buenaventura called the measure “a phased-in approach” which would allow medical cannabis dispensaries to sell recreational cannabis until licensed recreational cannabis retailers can be established.
“If we’re going to have recreational marijuana, there has to be a way for purchase and sale, right?” San Buenaventura said. San Buenaventura added she wants the Department of Health to “really start ramping up” plans on licensing recreational cannabis retailers.
The bill now heads to the Senate for a final floor vote. If it passes, it will be forwarded to the House.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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